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6/26/2014
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Google Wear Smartwatches Compared

LG and Samsung announce first devices with Android Wear, Google's platform for wearables. Understand the differences.

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Google dropped a lot of hard-hitting news during the opening keynote of its I/O developer conference on Wednesday. While most of the topics pertained to the company's various platforms, apps, and services, Google's hardware partners launched some wearables that are worth discussing. The Samsung Gear Live and the LG G Watch are already available for preorder via the Google Play Store and ship next month. They share most features but do differ in some important ways.

The Android Wear platform supports two watch faces, square and round. Samsung and LG both opted for the square shape for their watches. Motorola is working on a smartwatch with a round face, but it won't arrive until later this summer. The Gear Live's AMOLED screen measures 1.63 inches and has 320 x 320 pixels. The G Watch's LCD screen measures 1.65 inches and has 280 x 280 pixels. Both offer an "always-on" face so users won't have to press any buttons to check the time. Many of today's smartwatches turn the face off in order to conserve battery power.

Android Wear must require some serious horsepower. The Gear Live and G Watch both use a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor clocked at 1.2 GHz. The processor is mated to 512 MB of RAM, and the devices each include 4 GB of internal storage. The Snapdragon 400 is powerful enough to run today's mid-range smartphones with high-resolution displays. Qualcomm makes less powerful processors for entry-level smartphones.

LG G Watch
LG G Watch

The Gear Live and G Watch are resistant to dust and moisture thanks to their IP67 rating. That means they can handle some sweat and even some rain, but don't go jumping into the pool with them on. Sensors abound in each device, such as gyroscopes, accelerometers, and compasses. The Gear Live adds a heart rate monitor, in keeping with Samsung's new push for health and fitness. They use Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy to connect to nearby smartphones, which must be running Android 4.3 and up. The Gear Live's battery rates 300mAh and the G Watch's battery rates 400mAh. Since the G Watch's screen has fewer pixels than the Gear Live's and the battery is 33% larger, it is fair to suggest the G Watch will offer much better battery life than the Gear Live.

[What are other vendors doing with Android? Read Microsoft's 'First' Android Phone Aims Low.]

Android Wear relies heavily on voice interactions and supports Google Now. This means wearers can talk to their watch and tell it what to do. For example, consumers will be able to initiate, dictate, and send a text message all without touching either the watch or their smartphone. Consumers can ask their watch about an upcoming flight, sports scores, and calendar events, as well as to set alarms, make restaurant reservations, and make phone calls. The user interface is based on the same cards found in Google Now, and they slide off the screen when users swipe back-and-forth and up-and-down. There are no buttons.

The Gear Live is being offered in Black and Wine Red, while the G Watch is being offered in Black Titan and White Gold. Both use the standard 22mm watch strap and can be paired with new straps if the owner so chooses. Samsung's smartwatch costs $199 and ships by July 7. LG's costs $229 and ships by July 3.

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Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio

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Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
7/1/2014 | 12:41:48 AM
Re: I don't get it
SachinEE,

"I also think smart watches would be a welcome for parents who want to keep tabs on their children (like where they go etc), and this new field of security for children would be a deciding factor in pushing the sales of smart watches."

I am not sure I understand your idea about smartwatches becoming a tool for imprisoning children. It sounds like a really bad idea if you want to teach trust to your kids by letting them know you don't trust them. 

The best way to know where you kids go, do, etc. is by teaching trust to them, by having an open dialogue and a good, honest communication. Kids are not born knowing everything. They need to be taught things about life, dangers, and all. 

That idea would be just the wrong marketing strategy for anything. 

-Susan
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
6/30/2014 | 1:23:44 PM
Re: I don't get it
@ David

I agree what you're saying, From a point of view of a screen size, smartwatches will never replace smartphones, but Shane makes a good point. Voice commands will be as common as a latte; and we won't need to look at the screen as much as we do with the smartphones.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
6/30/2014 | 11:26:20 AM
Re: I don't get it
@Susanefortane: Yes, truly said so. I also think smart watches would be a welcome for parents who want to keep tabs on their children (like where they go etc), and this new field of security for children would be a deciding factor in pushing the sales of smart watches.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
6/30/2014 | 8:57:07 AM
Re: I don't get it
@angelfuego: Of course they do, but the user's hands are a priority. If you have got really big thumbs then you should go for a larger screen phone but if your fingertips are small to average, you'll do quite well with a sub 4 inch to 4 inch screen sized smartphone.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
6/30/2014 | 8:55:02 AM
Re : Google Wear Smartwatches Compared
I think Independent developers like FitBit would be chucking out really good examples for wearable technology and smart watches. Maybe not on the same levels as Samsung, but they'll be slow and steadily they will capture bigger market share.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
6/28/2014 | 8:28:36 AM
Re: I don't get it
Dave, 

"Well, I do feel a need to have them all. :) "

How funny. Maybe we all should have them all, just in case. 

Sometimes the discussions about smartwatches remind me of the first discussions about tablets. At the beginning, some people said tablets were made to be an extension of the laptop. Since then, tablets have evolved to become stand alone devices. Of course, tablets are not for everybody either. 

So, I would say that smartwatches might follow the same path. They may be an extension of the smartphone at the beginning, but soon they will become a device in its own right. 

There you go. If your wife had a smartwatch she could save your life. :) The price will come down soon, just the same as Google Glass.

In conclusion: You just keep your smartphone and buy a smartwatch for your wife. 

-Susan
Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Moderator
6/27/2014 | 10:31:54 PM
Re: I don't get it
@Dave, You are right about the size of the cell phone screens. I do notice the trend of the larger cell phones. They are still fairly thin, but the screen is larger. Right now, I stilI happen to prefer the smaller screened phones, because I like how the smaller phones are more small, compact, and fits in my pocket.
Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Moderator
6/27/2014 | 10:27:28 PM
Re: Prettier watches
I bet that if these watches become the next "it" item, they will start to get more creative with the look of the watch. I could see them manufacturing different color wrist bands or faceplates that can be interchangeable and snap on. I also wouldn't be surprised if they came out with special edition model that has a crystal embellishments on the face plate frame or wristband.
Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Moderator
6/27/2014 | 10:20:30 PM
Re: Prettier watches
Tekedge: I think you are right. It might seem weird at first to talk into it early on, but I can see it eventually becoming the norm.
tekedge
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tekedge,
User Rank: Moderator
6/27/2014 | 4:57:25 PM
Prettier watches
It may become a fashion statement. I can already imagine a world of watches.
Page 1 / 3   >   >>
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